Students Headed to Washington, D. C. and to Receive $10,000 College Scholarship

January 9, 2020, Washington, D.C. —The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announces that high school students Mr. Bryson Erick Ewen Connor and Ms. Grace Ann Marie May will join Senator Richard J. Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth in representing Illinois in the nation’s capital during the 58th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 7 — 14, 2020. Bryson Connor of Dwight and Grace May of Princeton were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will also each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.
The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the impetus for the program as stated in Senate testimony is “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.”
Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings the most outstanding high school students – two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity – to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

Bryson Connor, a senior at Dwight Township High School, serves as the Senior Class president and has served as class president since his sophomore year of high school. He has spearheaded numerous fundraising efforts to support Homecoming, Prom and other class activities. Additionally, he volunteers with Adopt-A-Highway. He has organized school-related volunteer efforts into multiple shifts while earning over 100 hours of volunteer service. In 2019, Bryson attended Envision National Youth Leadership Program at the University of Maryland to increase his understanding of diplomacy and national security. Bryson intends to study international relations and Spanish in college.

Grace May, a junior at Princeton High School, serves as the Junior Class treasurer. She has served as her class treasurer since her freshman year. In this role, she has supported her school through fundraising events and the coordination of Homecoming Court elections. Additionally, Grace served on Illinois State Senator Chuck Weaver’s Youth Advisory Council, where she has met with peers to discuss current events and participate in Congressional simulations. Grace was also chosen to represent her school at the Illinois Central South region of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference, where she now serves as an alumni ambassador.

Chosen as alternates to the 2020 program were Mr. Sam Albin Brody, a resident of Chicago, who attends Walter Peyton College Preparatory School and Ms. Grace Erin Napp, a resident of Alton, who attends Alton High School.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Illinois delegates and alternates were designated by Carmen I. Ayala, State Superintendent of Education.

While in Washington the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, Congressional staff, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media.

In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,700 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service. Among the many distinguished alumni are: Senator Susan Collins, the first alumnus to be elected U.S. senator; Senator Cory Gardner, the second alumnus to be elected U.S. senator and the first to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first alumnus to be elected governor; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, former presidential advisors Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Karl Rove, and Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana currently a candidate for president of the United States. Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David Leroy, Provost of Wake Forest University Rogan Kersh, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and other university educators.

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